Sunday, January 09, 2011

Poop: The Hard Truth

As moms and dads of special needs kids, we talk about almost every aspect of our lives.  We share our hopes and fears, our trials and triumphs.  We express great joy at milestones finally reached, and desperate despair that some milestones will never be realized.  We talk good days, bad days and everything in between. 

There is one piece of reality, though, that I rarely see discussed.

This is about poop.  The poop of a 45-pound, five-year-old kid (two of 'em, actually) with sensory issues and anxiety but no sense of what is gross, who isn't potty trained.  At all.

Most of your five-year-olds have reached a point where mom doesn't have to be involved in their potty activities as much.  You might have your occasional constipation issue or God forbid, diarrhea, but by and large they are taking care of their bathroom needs themselves, like the rest of civilization.  You are probably only dealing with a little mess, while they perfect the art of cleaning their own butts.

Not so at our house.  I am as involved in the boys' personal bathroom experiences now as I was the day they were born.  The two of them poop an average of twice a day (not much constipation here, folks) and they are 5 years and 11 months old, which makes them (getting out my calculator out now) around 2,155 days old, which means there have been 4,310 poops per child, times two for twins -- 8,620 poops since February, 2005.  Roughly.  Now they were in daycare for about two years, and Mark changes his share, and we do get help from family, so it's not like I've changed all 8,620 of them.  But I've definitely changed the majority.

By the way, if the title wasn't warning enough, this post is not for the squeamish.

Gosh, there are just so many awesome things I have to say about the poop in our lives.  I hardly know where to begin.

First off there's the marvelous fact that I'm still shopping in the baby section for diapers at Target, for the 8th year in a row.  (Aliza was two and in diapers when the boys were born, and they are almost six now...I didn't even have to use the calculator for that one).

Secondly, there's the fact that I'm still dealing with things like diaper rash at age five.

But that's all nothing.

I have to worry about whether they have pooped and will smell in public, especially at school, when they are trying to find a way to fit in and get the other kindergarteners to accept them.  And when I say "they are trying" I mean, their teachers and therapists and I are trying.

While they aren't in control and aware enough of their functions to actually go in the potty, they are aware enough to know that they are uncomfortable after pooping and sometimes will stick their hands down their pants to itch or otherwise seek out what is making them feel uncomfortable.  That's certainly not going to lead to social acceptance.

(eeuuww, I know.  I"m sorry.  Hang in there.)

A faint aura of poo hangs in the air like a mist throughout the entire house, nearly all the time.  It's like we have a poo-scented air freshener.  We take diapers out to the garbage immediately to get them out of the house which helps eliminate some of the pungence.  But by garbage day, the stench around the garbage can is sometimes horrifying.

They aren't always cooperative with a diaper change.  There can be a lot of squirming.  Kind of like an infant might squirm, only they are 45ish pounds, and strong as oxes. 

You can scrub the top several layers of skin off your hands with antibacterial soap after changing a poopy diaper, but sometimes that smell just endures for hours.  Many days, I spend a great deal of time looking at my hands, sleeves, shirt, and pants trying to figure out if I got a little on me somewhere.  The scent of poo follows me everywhere I go.  (Oh my, no one is ever going to sit next to me again without sniffing suspiciously, are they?)

I've seen every form of poop that has ever existed.  I've seen hard and soft.  Rolly and sticky.  Runny and thick.  Stay-in-one-place, and go-all-over.  Brown, tan, beige, cream, green, black, orange, and yellow.  But basically, all the forms of poop can all be slotted in one of two descriptions; the rolly kind, or the sticky kind.

While I'm changing the boys, I'll discuss with myself the pros and cons of each type.  I can't decide which kind of poop is my favorite. 

The rolly kind is easy to pick up and dispose of, but is all too likely to roll right out of the diaper and onto the floor.  I may see it immediately and pick it up, or I may not see it.  In that case, either I see it within a few minutes and pick it up, or someone steps on it.  Preferrably me, or someone who will notice it right away and won't track it all over the house.

Or, do I prefer the sticky kind, which is nice because it doesn't fall out of the diaper and onto the floor.  It stays put on the diaper and the skin pretty well.  But if it does get onto something, its stickiness is less of an asset (nope.  pun absolutely ignored).  It sticks to hands, socks, knees, rugs, jeans, toys, books, couches, and pillows.

It's just such a tough choice.  Both kinds have their good points.

Can't wait to come over, can you?  I clean the floors and rugs regularly.  Lysol is my friend.  Come on by for visit.  Sit on the couch, hang out with me for awhile.  Just don't walk by the garbage can on your way in.

26 comments:

Umma said...

I just don't know what to say! One of our worst weekends ever, one in which I thought I was going to lose (what was left of) my mind, was when Copper (one of our dogs) decided Caleb's poop was a delicacy. No, he did not get into the "diaper pail," we had already moved to taking the diapers directly out of the house...he licked it off Caleb's fingers that had dipped into the diaper to investigate. The child thought that was SO funny! It happened 3 times in 2 days and I...I don't like to remember my mental state that weekend.

Salt in Suburbia said...

You know I have potty trained kids, but right around the time we got the boys diagnoses, when they were still taking a nap, C was choosing to poop in his diaper at nap time everyday and then put his hand in it and "paint" the room. BTW, we had to separate them for naps, so this was OUR room that was getting "painted." One time it was so bad that we had to pull the carpet up and repaint the room, and still we could smell it for awhile. After that, we quit naps, and that was the end of it for us. I read in one of Temple Grandin's books that she did the same thing.

On another topic, I was reading Umma's blog above and she's going back to the Waisman center again. Will you guys be Going back to participate in any more studies?

Lisa Cunningham said...

I love reading your posts, Bonnie. So funny and honest.

I feel like the mayor of Poop City these days. I also feel a bit like a chemist, as I regularly tweak the kids' diet based on their latest output. Too hard? Skip the bananas, apples, rice and cheese for a bit, and add oranges and more veggies. Too soft? More of the BRATY foods. My husband and I keep each other up to speed with one-word descriptions like "toothpaste," "marbles," "perfect," "Silly Putty" (ok, that's two words), and "sticky."

Chris P-M said...

HA!!! My husband and I both laughed aloud as we read your post. We HAFTA have that kind of humor...it's either laugh or cry, right?!

I'm constantly talking about poo with Kai's therapists when they're here, because they get here right after lunch (and there's always an elimination period during that time.) Thankfully I think they've seen it all...

Brian Miller said...

oh my...i am so glad to be out of the diaper phase...blessing to you...

Sarah said...

You know you have a hard job when you're debating over which kind of poop is your favorite!!! Will there be an end the madness anytime soon? Hang in there, and I'm sending a floral scented breeze your way right now!

(PS: popping over from The Girl Next Door!)

Michelle Saunderson said...

Oh, I am so glad I never had to deal with 5 year olds in diapers. My heart goes out to you. I found this post very funny though.

WhisperingWriter said...

I am so glad my kids are out of diapers.

Though I still have to deal with poop occasionally.

And I have to do a cat box, which sometimes contains gross poo.

Elizabeth Newlin said...

You're clearly a saint. Dear lord.

Rachael said...

Seriously! One of the best, most honest posts ever!! Good job!

Twin Engines said...

Your sense of humor is obviously what keeps you going, Bonnie. I think you smell fine, though - I've never caught a whiff when I'm near you. I'll sit by you.

Sparkling said...

Thank God for the blog, right? In the blogosphere, we can get into such detail and crack ourselves up(and other lucky selves too) about things we wouldn't go into such detail about in real life. Out loud. Blogging allows us to say it all out loud, but only in the voices of those who read us!

The Girl Next Door Grows Up said...

First of all, you are truly a saint for not drinking all day and night.

Second, I was riveted by this post. Not because I am in love with poop, but because it was so honest and sarcastic and open and wonderful.

You let us into your world - the worst part of it, but you did it in a way that was beyond interesting.

Cortney said...

Oh my goodness, I know exactly what you are talking about! I literally had one of the "shittiest" weeks at work this week and reading this has reminded me to laugh a little. My students are sick this week...but it's not the kids with stomach viruses that gave me trouble, it was the ones who are on antibiotics. I don't know why, but antibiotic give my students diarhea (better known as "runny poo' because it sounds better than diarhea). I felt like I spent the better art of my 8 hour day in the bathroom with one child after another and by the time I was done with the last of them they started al over again. Also note that my kids are 12-14 years old and between 80 and 120 lbs....they also like to explore their own creations and I have had to dodge a handfull of poo on more than one occasion.

I have learned that shoving baby wipes up my nose prior to releasing the diapers contents helps easy the smell and my gag reflex.

Thank you for writing this, it is just what I needed to read at the end of my crappy week to give me a little perspective.

Stephanie said...

Maybe I should just hand over the title of my blog to you now. ;)

You know what I found the funniest? That you actually calculated the number of poops that your boys have had in the past 5 years. That's funny!

I like that you stay humorous about it, too. I've got some poop stained carpets and walls over here too, so if you ignore that room, I think I can manage to not go near your garage when I come over.

Congrats on your win, too!!

Stopping in from The Girl Next Door Grows Up.

Powdered Toast Man said...

I just lost my appetite and i think I smell something but it just might be in my head. I don't think I would be able to handle so much doo-doo. You should get some sort of award for that.

Brian Miller said...

hey just wanted to say congrats on winning the contest...

Snuggle Wasteland said...

You should get some to of that stuff that coroner's put under their noses to dull the smell....

Congrats on winning the contest!

Sparkling said...

Congrats on winning the contest! I knew you would. You deserve to win something for all that you put up with!!

bigguysmama said...

Ok, when I got to your page, I somehow missed the title of the post! LOL Having two boys I'm not squeamish at all, but I can't even imagine what you have to go thru. Thank you for your honesty and putting an amusing spin on it.

Congrats on winning the writing contest.

~Mimi who'd be happy to stop by and hang out any ol' day

RN Mama said...

First of all, congrats on winning the contest!

Second, as the mother of a 5 year old kindergartner as well, I can't even imagine this. You are an amazing Mom!

tulpen said...

Congrats on your win!!

I can sorta feel your pain, or smell it...

My son pooped his pants until after his seventh birthday... also with sensory issues and other crap... hehehehehe...

I hope you poop free days at some point in your life.

purplume said...

I'm so glad I ate BEFORE I read this. I worked as a nurse and can readily envision the sight and smells of many a poop.
I remember one night taking care of an incontinent young man with diarrhea. He was just on a mattress on the floor because of lack of control. If you didn't get to him soon, the entire room was covered. Of course, I had other patients too.
He was so excoriated that it was very painful for him to be cleaned up. I finally took to putting him in the tub, he was big, and pouring lots of water over him so I didn't have to rub his poor skin.
That's when I realized what an advantage we nurses have. We get to go home and someone does the laundry and the cooking and the housecleaning at work. Bless all the caregivers and you.

Rebecca said...

Congrats on the win! I work with special needs children in a classrrom for grades k-3...so I definitely know a lot about poop as well. I love how you talked about the poop search...checking your pants, shirts, shoes, hair maybe? Where is it ?!? Although I work with the special kiddos 6 hours a day, I will not even pretend to know what you deal with as a mom... although we just met, I would like to tell you that you are awesome.

Kimberly said...

Rolly poops? Are the worst. I am a pediatric nurse and I have seen some amazing things done with poop.
Congrats on the win...this post was most definitely deserving. Bravo Momma!

Ruthi aka abitosunshine said...

Congrats on the win from iWriteiBlogiWin!

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